Artist Dan Rawlings has transformed a petrol tanker from a functional vehicle carrying fossil fuels into a work of intricate industrial beauty, with a message about the power of nature.
Rawlings spent four months carving out the tank to leave only a steel skeleton of tree trunks, branches and brambles, turning this once-polluting vessel into a 3D forest sculpture.
There is “definitely an environmental message”, the artist says. His designs are meant to represent nature reclaiming man-made objects.
“A lot of my work exists in this weird future where there are relics of the industry being overtaken.” Rawlings is now exhibiting the tanker at the 20-21 art centre, which is in a former church in Scunthorpe, the North Lincolnshire steel town.
Rawlings, who is based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, says he wants to send a message about how people don’t think of the future when using natural resources. “We ignore it in favor of profit,” he says.
The 10.5m (34.5ft) tanker, which had gone out of service before he bought it, is one example, he says. “I think it’s 12 years old, but it’s obsolete. No companies would use it because it looks too old, even though it was perfectly functional. It’s ridiculous.
He also wants people to think about how nature is “this weird force that I think people underestimate”.
“The last year or so has been an amazing example of that,” he says. “The number of businesses that have been shut for a year, and then you go and look at their car parks and everything’s so overgrown. You can’t tell what’s temporarily closed and what’s been derelict for 10 years.”
Rawlings has made similar installations out of old cars, vans, planes and even road signs.
He first paints on the designs with a brush, then carves out the unwanted parts with a plasma cutter. “Then I’m just filing and cutting hand and panel beating and that kind of thing.
“It’s very labour intensive. But that’s the bit I really enjoy.”
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